by Chris Davis
reviewed on X360
They Mostly Hunt at Night. Mostly
20th Century Fox’s Alien and Predator franchises are the peanut butter and chocolate of the sci-fi genre. Combining the two over the past several decades has served as both an example and disappointment for franchise crossovers. Only a selected few such as Robocop vs. The Terminator succeed where many have failed. Their crossover comics have been going strong for 20 years but their attempted entries into film have been nothing short of substandard failures.
One medium of entertainment that has managed almost as well as the comic series has been video games. Rebellion, a developer out of Oxford, started the crossover with its first title in 1991 for the Atari Jaguar and gained critical acclaim as the single best title on that doomed system. Rebellion followed up that title with a remake in 1999 for the PC and Mac. Again, they achieved critical acclaim but did not return to the franchise after that, instead opting to have Monolith studios create the next sequel. When SEGA announced that they had purchased the rights to the Aliens franchise back in late 2008 many were skeptical as to what the three-game-deal would yield. With Obsidian’s Aliens RPG cancelled and Gearbox’s gorgeous looking Aliens Colonial Marines pushed back in favor of Rebellion’s newest remake, this new title has a lot to live up to. Does the newest Aliens vs. Predator succeed in the same way that its predecessors did or does Rebellion’s streak come to a grinding halt?
I Ain’t Got Time to Bleed
The game’s single player component is broken up into three distinct campaigns: human, alien, and predator. Each of them are considerably short and take no more than a couple hours to complete which is sorely disappointing, especially since each campaign reuses the same maps. The game begins for all three games the same way: Karl “Bishop” Weyland and scientists under the Weyland-Yutani banner (the overarching evil corporation present throughout the Alien and Predator franchises) discover an ancient Predator pyramid hidden beneath the surface of the human colony of Freya’s Prospect sometime after the destruction of LV426 in the original Aliens film. Weyland and staff proceed to process and research the residing Xenomorphs (Aliens) contained within. Upon breaching the pyramid, a burst of energy launches into orbit and summons a Predator ship. Shortly thereafter all hell breaks loose and contact with the colony is lost. In response, a detachment of Colonial Marines is sent to Freya’s Prospect to eliminate a “possible” xenomorph infestation. The Predator ship arrives shortly thereafter and only a small handful of Marines actually reach the surface before the Predator ship destroys the human cruiser.
Players are advised to start with the human campaign as a tutorial for learning how to use the other two campaigns. As a Colonial Marine, the player’s dropship crash-lands on Freya’s Prospect. After stumbling through unconsciousness you quickly finds yourself alone with only your squad mate and Michelle Rodriguez sound-alike to guide you out of the facility to reunite with the other Marines. This part of the game is definitely where the horror aspect of Aliens vs. Predator shines, as you venture down dark corridors with your motion detector going off just in time to make you stop and panic. You trek through the remains of the human colony and eventually make your way toward an escape vehicle, all the while exploring the alien jungle, Predator hunting grounds, and even the pyramid itself.
The Predator campaign is a good bridging point between the human and Alien campaigns as it blends the focus of projectile combat with the melee combat of the Alien campaign. Players begin as a newly promoted Predator. In the eyes of their species the humans have desecrated their sacred hunting ground and have been tampering with their ultimate prey, the xenomorphs, which Predators refer to as serpents. The entire focus of this campaign is to reach the pyramid, wipeout the serpent infestation and recover some sacred lost technology. Players only start with a singular projectile weapon (the beam cannon seen in the Predator films) but the arsenal expands to include new weapons as well as a vision mode that highlights serpents in the environment. While players will be utilizing the projectile weapons (especially the cabani spear), the majority of your combat will be relegated to melee attacks. With a nod at the original Predator films, players can sneak behind their victims, and proceed to commit one of the most brutal killing sequences seen since Epic Games showed off how to properly utilize a chainsaw in Gears of War. The gruesomeness of these kills cannot be understated; those who are squeamish should definitely be prepared before taking a hold of the controller.
Best use of melee combat since Breakdown, strong cooperative modes
Lackluster mutliplayer system, weak singleplayer